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It was the year of Hurricane Katrina. Life was stormy without and within.

May of that year saw me four months pregnant with my third, my only girl, and suddenly alone, raising my two young boys. My husband had met another and chosen to move on. Depression had me in the thick of the storm.

I wish I could say I yanked myself up brave and strong from the start. I wish I could be that sort that just rolls on. But, I can’t.

I was lost and heartsore, losing the fight against the winds that suddenly seemed to whip me from every side. I had struggled with suicidal thoughts since girlhood, but, I always considered myself a “functioning depressive.” Never had these urgings pressed down quite so heavily.

I am not proud to say it, but, at the time, even the thought of dependent life in my belly and in the toddler beds the next room over weren’t always enough to combat the desire to be done with it all.

I truly saw no hope. Dreams of a life of ministry side by side had been ripped from my hands with cruelty and lies. Love had again proved shifty and uncertain in my life.

In a particularly vulnerable moment that June, I hate to admit that I, who values life for all precious babes born and yet to be born, took a bottle of pills from my medicine cabinet and began downing them, one after the other. I was ready to be done, figuring my boys, my soon-to-be ex, and everyone else could be rid of a burden, that my little girl might miss the misery womanhood had been for me.

It was horrible, grief-stricken thinking, but, there it was. But, something in me had to keep looking to see how my boys were fairing in the room beyond. They were playing, blissfully unaware. Beautiful. And I felt my belly for my tiny girl, maybe four or five months along, and I thought how beautiful she would be, too.

Gifts from God. Consolations for the years of intense pain. Entrusted to me.

And I knew I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t leave them. For better or worse, we were in this together.

So, I made a call. It should’ve perhaps been 911, looking back, but I think somewhere in my mixed emotions I still hoped my husband would care. But, when I called his workplace, I was told he was home with his new girl. That cut like a knife-I won’t lie, but, still holding my belly protectively, I surged forward in the conversation, asking them to get a message to him, as he tended to ignore my calls to his cell these days.

I guess my voice betrayed me, because his employee instead responded with a question of his own: Are you okay?

And then he added: I hate what he’s doing to you.

I could’ve lied. I could’ve allowed this to become my permission to sink back down and stay there. I could’ve let anger and my bitter agreement how much I hated what he was doing finish me off and take this sweet little life in my womb with me.

But, something in me spilled open that day. Something moved in my heart to shout above this unfair storm in my life and next thing I knew I admitted what I’d done and how desperate was my need for help.

My unborn baby, my boys’ need for help.

And that young man and a fellow employee became  our heroes that day.

One called 911 while the other kept me talking, kept me encouraged, reminding me the Lord had more around the corner for me.

And the emergency workers were swift to swoop in and tend to our needs, befriend my boys, make us all feel safe.

Nobody scolded me. Nobody was unkind. Though I felt intense shame for what I nearly did to my precious girl and my dear boys, even the police officer dispatched, though firm, was compassionate.

It was the beginning of a turning point for me. From there came therapy, getting intune with my health, and a deeper walk with God-specifically a plunge into prayer like never before. I looked at my boys with fresh eyes, and resumed with determination my desire to help them grow into Godly men-and to believe I could do so.

And my daughter, my only girl, came to me that October, a joyful pink cherub and the solace I knew she’d be. I rejoiced with tears,whispered prayers of gratitude, even as life continued to prove hard, because He had snatched us from death’s jaws and breathed anew on us.

I could’ve beat myself with guilty regrets, but, what a waste it would’ve been of the time He extended to us.

Today, I look at all He has done, all I might’ve missed, and I am so humbled. And I actually thank Him for the storm. It sounds crazy, but it’s what carried me to here.

Marisa Ulrich

Marisa Ulrich is a mom of four, two autistic, two “typicals," living in one of those great old fixer-uppers in rural Kansas. She is in a blessed second marriage with the handyman of her dreams. Her writing has appeared in Autism Parenting and Zoom Autism. Her first book, Broken Cookies Taste Just as Sweet: The Amazing Grace of Motherhood, Marriage, and Miracles on the Spectrum is set to debut July 19th via eLectio publishing. Join her ongoing thoughts on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Broken-Cookies-Taste-Just-as-Sweet-492541130948912/?fref=ts and online at https://brokencookiessite.wordpress.com/

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